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Can you orally ingest serotonin and dopamine?

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The brain’s chemical messengers, serotonin and dopamine, are responsible for making you happier. You might know that your body produces serotonin in the gut, along with dopamine where they help with healthy digestion [1]. It’s important to note that their function in the body is entirely different to the role these compounds play in the brain and that is due to permeability of something called the blood-brain-barrier.

Why does the brain have a blood-brain barrier?

Being an extremely important organ, the brain has evolved to protect itself in various ways. Apart from your 7mm hard skull, the brain has many layers within to provide added protection, including a barrier that is selective to what enters the brain. This layer of cells allows free entry to water and essential nutrients, prevents entry of toxins and harmful bacteria and controls other compounds that must be tightly balanced to maintain optimum brain health [2].

The brain makes its own serotonin and dopamine to impact mood

Though serotonin and dopamine are needed in the brain to keep you happy, sleep well, feel pleasure, and keep you moving, the brain stops the entry of gut made serotonin and dopamine. Your brain likes all things exclusive and requires these chemical messengers to be made inside the brain to perform their functions. The only way to achieve this is to get enough of their building blocks from the food to produce serotonin and dopamine.

Which foods help you increase your dopamine?

Tyrosine is dopamine’s building block. It can be found in these protein rich foods [3].

Food (per 100g)

Tyrosine content (mg)

Parmesan cheese

2300

Frozen dried tofu

1800

Powdered full fat milk

1300

Beef steak

1200

Turkey meat

1200

Whole egg

500

Ensuring enough eggs, dairy, plant protein and animal meat in the diet can help your brain increase dopamine production. Alternatively, it can be taken in supplemental form to ensure adequate intake. Brain feed has created the world’s 1st natural 800mg tyrosine capsule from fermented corn. You can read more about this here.

Which foods help you increase your serotonin?

Tryptophan is the building block of serotonin. It can be found in the following protein rich foods [4]:

Food (per 100g)

Tryptophan content (mg)

Frozen dried tofu

750

Chia seeds

720

Pork

630

Mozzarella cheese

600

Chicken

380

Canned salmon

350

 

In order to cross the blood brain barrier, tryptophan has to bind with a transporter molecule. Your body uses less than 3% of food’s tryptophan to make brain serotonin [1]. In the brain, tryptophan is converted to 5-htp. Serotonin (chemically known as 5-HT) is then made from 5-htp.

Can you take 5-htp? Is it better than tryptophan?

5-htp can be extracted as a supplement from a plant called Griffonia simplicifolia. 5-htp can freely cross the blood brain barrier for its direct conversion to serotonin, bypassing the need for tryptophan and its challenges. Our 100mg 5-htp is extracted and isolated from Ghanian Griffonia Simplicifolia seeds. 98% of the tablet is comprised of 5-htp making it the smallest, nutrient-dense tablet available and no unnecessary bulking agents. You can read more about this here.

How to ensure a steady supply of feel-good chemicals?

Though the brain restricts entry of gut made serotonin and dopamine, it allows their building blocks, tryptophan and tyrosine to enter for their in-house production. To improve your well-being through the feel-good effects of these chemicals, ensure that you get sufficient amounts of tryptophan and tyrosine through diet or supplements.

References

  1. Banskota, S. et al. (2019). Serotonin in the gut: Blessing or a curse. Biochimie, [online] 161, pp.56–64. doi:10.1016/j.biochi.2018.06.008.
  2. Daneman, R. et al. (2015). The Blood–Brain Barrier. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology, [online] 7(1), p.a020412. doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a020412.
  3. Nutrient Search Tool (n.d.). Foods highest in Tyrosine. [online] Nutrition Data. Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-001087000000000000000-2w.html?.
  4. Nutrient Search Tool (n.d.). Foods highest in Tryptophan. [online] Nutrition Data. Available at: https://nutritiondata.self.com/foods-000079000000000000000-1w.html?

 

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